Camera Review – FUJI X-T1

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I want to start by saying that I love Fuji as a company. I love the way they listen to their customers and keep improving their cameras through firmware updates. It’s so refreshing to see, and something Sony, Canon and Nikon need to defiantly do more of, rather just looking at their bottom line and releasing new bodies that are essentially the same (especially Canon is guilty of this).


I’ve spent a lot of time with the X-T1. I’ve even sold some pictures to Magazines using it. So I can say I’ve managed to use it in professional way, having made money with it. I don’t consider myself a pro photographer, as it’s not my primary means of making a living. I’ve shot about 15-20k frames total on the Fuji XT1 so I have a pretty good idea of its strengths and weaknesses. 

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Fujifilm X-T1 key features

16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor

EXR Processor II

Weather-resistant body

ISO 200-6400, plus 100 – 51200 expanded (JPEG only)

2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.77x (equiv.) magnification

‘Dual view’ in EVF shows regular view and focus peaking/digital split image at the same time

Top-plate ISO, shutter speed, exposure compensation, drive mode and metering controls

Six programmable function buttons

3.0″ 1.04M dot 3:2 tilting LCD

8 fps continuous shooting with continuous AF (3 fps with live view)

Built-in Wi-Fi including remote control from a smartphone or tablet

Full HD movie recording (1080/60p, 36Mbps bitrate), with built-in stereo microphone

Clip-on external flash (included)

Image Quality

Image quality of the Fuji X-T1 is very good. It’s better or on par with any Apsc DSLR that’s currently on the market. This is partially due to Fuji’s excellent lens lineup. The 23mm, 35mm and 56mm prime lenses and the new 16-55 2.8 and tele zooms are all amazing pieces of glass. I have no doubt when I say this that fuji has the best, sharpest, and highest quality APSC lineup of lenses on the market. Sure, they also have a prices to match that quality, but you get what you pay for.

The 16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor is excellent and great in low light. You can often get very clean images at ISO 3200 and even beyond. Here is my first real world slight negative that came into play however: the 16mp… Although most would think that is enough, the first thing the editor of the magazine asked me when I sold my pictures is “Do you have a higher resolution file” Mind you it was a 2 page spread, but I think the greatest “weakness” of this camera is the 16mp, which for 2014-2015 is pretty low. If Fuji could develop a 24mp or higher sensor to take advantage of those amazing lenses I would switch back to Fuji in a heartbeat. And the rumors are that they in fact are doing just that with theXPRO2. 😉 Keep in mind the current sensor. although refined and improved, is very similar to the Xpro 1 dating back to  March 2012. It’s time for an upgrade.

Another negative I’ve noticed is in the rendering of vegetation. I’m not sure if it was due to the 16mp or Lightroom processing, but grass and distant trees would look smudged and not sharp. I’ve tested it many times with different lenses and differant apertures, so i’m 100% sure it’s not user error. The Nikons and Sonys iv used simply do a better job at rendering landscapes with vegetation. Some have suggested using different programs such as Capture One, photo ninja or other programs to process the RAW files. I’ve tested them all and although it does improve the results somewhat, its still not great. Workflow for those programs is pretty terrible so if you’re processing a few RAW files its fine, but if you plan on editing hundreds, just forget it… I’d rather have smudged grass than drive myself mad.

Also the Video quality is really poor. This is a stills camera, don’t even bother with video, you’re better off with your iphone 6. 

Having said all that, the image quality is excellent. Especially for people and street photography uses. The JPEGs are stunning and my favorite OOC JPEGs from any camera iv ever used. Not only that but the XT1 has a certain LOOK and FEEL to its images. It adds character in a way that few digital cameras are able to do. That alone is really hard to qualify in a review, you either love it or hate it. I loved it.

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Autofocus

The autofocus is very fast and smooth with the right lenses. Some of the older lenses such as the 60mm macro are pretty bad. But the 23mm and the new 2.8 zoom lenses are excellent. Tracking again is not on par with a high-end DSLR. But its good enough for most applications. Also, I should mention, that Fuji has just announced a major firmware update to the X-T1. Knowing Fuji’s track record with these updates, I can say with confidence that it will have vastly improved  tracking capabilities. I’m not exaggerating when I say, It should be almost like owning a new camera. However, I have not tested the camera with the new firmware so its only speculation at this point. I have to score based only on my past experiences.

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Build Quality

Amazing Build Quality. Feels solid, it’s mostly made of metal and feels amazing. In fact its one of the best built camera’s iv ever owned. The X-T1 is weather resistant so you can use it in the rain or snow with no issues. Looks is not really factored into this score, but Its a sexy camera. As sexy as a camera can be. It’s the Adriana Lima of digital Cameras.

Handling

I really loved the Handling of the XT1 overall. The only thing I didn’t love about it was the grip. I had to add a battery grip when using the bigger tele lenses. I wish it was a bit bigger from the start. The physical dials for all your settings are a joy to use and it’s really hard to go back to a camera without them. I wish all cameras had an ISO dial…..

Innovation

The Electronic viewfinder… is… simply… Amazing…The 2.36M dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 0.77x (equiv.) magnification is not only the best EVF iv ever used, but the best viewfinder period ! It’s one of the reasons I can never go back to using a DSLR again. The ability to review my photos in the bright sun by looking through the viewfinder is something that I missed the most when I owned the Nikon D750. Also, having a live exposure preview…  I simply can’t shoot without it now that I’ve had a good one.

The XT-1 also features a great implementation of wi-fi controls via smartphones.. one of the best I’ve ever used. Its easy to set up and stays connected. Opens up many posibilities for street shooting.

The only negatives here are the use of the same 16mp sensor (and processor) as the Xe2, x100s, I really wish they upgraded both. But the other features outweigh that in this category.

Shooting experience

The manual controls make the X-T1 an excellent shooting experience. It simply inspires you to go shoot. Everything from its Retro looks, to how it feels in your hands and build quality. This is where Fuji shines.

Value

The Fuji X-T1 is not cheap.. The Sony a6000 is a better value for what your get if you’re on a budget, but Fuji is more about style and quality, and not just function. That comes at a price. It’s about 1700$ for the kit new. But keep in mind you can find a mint used Kit for about 1200$ and 900$ for body on fredmiranda.com or eBay.


Conclusion

The Fuji X-T1 is a remarkable camera. It’s a romantic, photographers camera longing for a time past, yet still maintaining bleeding edge technology. I can’t recommend to everyone however, simply due to its price and poor video quality. If those two factors don’t influence your purchase decision, then the X-T1 is an amazing stills camera and system with style, grace, quality and innovation.

Best used for: Street, Travel, Portrait.

Not great for: Sport, Landscape, video.

Additional Sample images:

 

Please use the following Amazon Links if you wish to purchase the X-T1 as you’ll be supporting the site at no additional expense to you. Thank you !

Fujifilm X-T1 (Body Only)
Fujifilm X-T1 XF 18-135mm Lens Kit
Fujifilm X-T1 w/ XF 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 Lens



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6 Responses

  1. jlmphotos

    Editor was clueless. I live shooting and selling stock images. The fuji raw file, when processed comes out as a 95mb TIFF. MORE THAN ENOUGH for any magazine two-page spread.
    Just an FYI – that’s the opinion of one person. I’ve made 24 x 18″ prints from 16mb JPEG’s that are amazing! Never mind the raw files

    Reply
  2. Lawrence Jones

    Vlad, welcome to the blogosphere from someone on the other side of town. I like the lighting in some of those local shots. I think I recognize the lake as Lake Houston, but where is that angel sculpture at?

    Reply

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